Does Facebook make you fat?

facebook photo envyI wrote yesterday about how seeing female athletes in sexual poses can make women think negatively about their own bodies.  Turns out that Facebook can have a similar effect, at least according to a new study.

The research, conducted by the Centre for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt found that social media is not helping people have a positive opinion on their body shape and size.

They found 600 Facebook users between 16 and 40 years of age and asked them how regularly looking at photos both of themselves and others on sites like Facebook made them feel about their own body image.  They revealed that over 51% of these participants felt more self-conscious about their bodies due to the constant exposure on Facebook.

“When people look at pictures of themselves and others on Facebook, it heightens their dissatisfaction with their body image,” Steve Crawford, associate director at The Center for Eating Disorders said. “Our culture is so weight obsessed, and Facebook isn’t helping. In fact, it’s making people feel fat.”

Crawford said the centre’s findings revealed that 75% of people believe they need to lose weight.

“The site is making it easy for people to put pictures up of them online, so people can comment on them. Someone might note how thin someone looks, but it just reinforces the notion that the thinner you are, the better you look.”

A seperate bit of research has found that Facebook is a popular haunt for the neurotic amongst us so these findings are perhaps not at all surprising, especially given that most people join Facebook due to a need to belong and to show off.  In other words, the opinions of others, or at least your place in relation to them, is of critical importance.

Of course, if you want to select a great profile photo, it would appear that a video is much more likely to portray you in a positive light.  Research has found that we find people more appealing in moving images than we do in stills.  This is due to the relative lateness of the still picture arriving on the human scene, therefore our DNA is wired to gauge attractiveness from the average of lots of points of view as we see people from different angles.

With research revealing that Facebook can harm your relationship though, maybe the best thing is to get off the site completely.


7 thoughts on “Does Facebook make you fat?

  1. I wonder if Facebook is really to blame here or if people that are so insecure would find a way to think they look fat some way or other, whether it's from magazines or Facebook?

  2. Hmmm, I tend to agree with Andrea's comment here. The very nature of Facebook as a social media is to allow for sharing of content, specially visual, i.e. photos & videos. Perhaps it enhances psychological disorders or creates a more powerful venue for its expression, but I don't think people really should blame it on Facebook if they have an eating disorder. Just a scapegoat, I believe… My two cents.

  3. I have to agree with the research that finds Facebook ideal for the neurotic among us and those who need to show off. In most cases, however, Facebook is just a scapegoat for deeper feelings of insecurity and self esteem that most people have.

  4. Some people need to get a grip here. If you don't want to look at photos of yourself, don't post them on Facebook! Not hard is it?

  5. It's the same as saying McDonald's makes people fat. It only makes you fat if you eat it, in the end, it's yourself that determines your own life. Facebook can't be blamed for anything here, you make the decision to upload photos, you make the decision to look at others photos, you make the decision to become self-conscious.

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